Public Rights of Way

Bournemouth has nearly 37km of Public Rights of Way, giving you access to beautiful countryside, attractions and shortcuts

What is a Public Right of Way?

Public Rights of Way are paths and tracks which everyone can use to cross private land. You have a legal right to use them any time of the day or night, all year round. They should be signposted. You can see a map of the Adopted Highway and Public Rights of Way at our Customer Contact Centre, St Stephen's Road.

Different types of Public Right of Way

Footpath - you have right of way:

  • on foot.

A footpath should be wide enough for two walkers to pass in comfort.

Bridleway - you have right of way:

  • on foot
  • on a bicycle
  • on horseback.

A bridleway should allow two horses to pass each other comfortably.

Cyclists must give way to walkers and riders on bridleways.

Restricted Byway - you have right of way:

  • on foot
  • on a bicycle
  • on horseback
  • on a horse drawn vehicle (for example, horse and cart)

Byway Open To All Traffic (BOAT) - you have right of way:

  • on foot
  • on any pedal cycle
  • on horseback
  • on horse drawn vehicles (for example, horse and cart)
  • on wheeled vehicles of any kind (including cars and motorbikes).

On a Public Right of Way

You can

  • Stop to look at the view, take a photograph, or sit down to rest, as long as you are not blocking the path.

  • Take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair if it is physically possible.

  • Take a dog, but the dog must be kept under strict control and kept to the path.

  • Move an obstacle to get past it.

You can't

  • Roam over the land. You must keep to the pathway, unless you are passing an obstacle.
  • Use a vehicle on a Byway unless it is registered, taxed and insured.

  • Drive recklessly, carelessly or without consideration of others.

  • Use a Right of Way for any purpose other than as a right of passage.

  • Cause unnecessary damage when removing an illegal obstruction.

When walking or riding in groups, please travel in single file where necessary and do not spread out beyond the width of the path.

More about rights, responsibilities and improvements of Public Rights of Way

Report a Problem With a Public Right of Way

If a route is obstructed, unclear or you were challenged while using it please get in touch with as many details as possible.